The Impacts of Restrictive Housing on Inmate Behavior, Mental Health, and Recidivism, and Prison Systems and Personnel

The purpose of this project is to inform scholarship and policy on restrictive housing, and the specific goal is to contribute to efforts to understand the impacts of restrictive housing on inmates and prison systems and their personnel. Data will include information from over 250,000 cases from the Florida Department of Corrections on inmate characteristics, prior criminal record and instant offense, and in-prison and post-release outcomes, as well as information from focus groups with and surveys of prison administrators and personnel.

The study’s objectives are:

(1) to provide policymakers, practitioners, researchers, and the public with empirical information about the impacts of restrictive housing on inmate misconduct, mental health, including self-injury, and recidivism,

(2) to provide these groups with information about whether restrictive housing impacts may vary by type of exposure (e.g., duration of time in or frequency of exposure to the housing, single-cell vs. double-cell confinement) and among groups of inmates (e.g., mentally ill, females, minorities, and younger inmates), and

(3) to provide insight into how restrictive housing is used and may impact prison systems and personnel as well as how its effectiveness might be enhanced and what alternatives exist that may be more effective and cost-efficient than this specialized type of housing.


Principal Investigators: William Bales, Ph.D. and Daniel Mears, Ph.D. 

Project Director: George Pesta, Ph.D.

Research Partners: Co-Principal Investigator, Joshua Cochran, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati

Research Partner: Kerensa Lockwood, Ph.D., Florida Department of Corrections

Advisor and Lead Analyst: Sonja Siennick, Ph.D., Associate Professor, FSU College of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Graduate Student: Vivian Hughes, Jennifer Brown

Dates: 2017 – 2019

Funding Agency: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice

Funding Amount: $730,615